Saturday, March 31, 2007

Win a Book! Share my Joy!



Wahoooooo! My author's copies of ALL ABOUT EVIE arrived yesterday. It's a book! A real book! There's nothing like holding your hard work and dreams in your hands. Well, except for sharing that pleasure and joy with friends. So...

I'm giving away two (2) copies of ALL ABOUT EVIE. It's not even in stores yet. Be the first on your block to read the first of three Evie adventures.

Since Evie and Arch are movie fanantics, enter the drawing by commenting here and telling me your favorite 'classic' movie and, if you are so inclined, why it's your fave film.

I'll draw two winners at random on Monday evening! Let the fun begin!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Personal Taste -- The Defining Factor

Thank you to all who wrote in with their well wishes regarding the Top Pick review for All About Evie. It's so much sweeter when you can share your joy with others.

Speaking of reviews... Although I hope and wish from the bottom of my heart that everyone who reads this story will be equally delighted, my realistic side knows I'm bound to run across some tepid maybe even negative feedback. It's natural. Everything is subjective. People's taste vary on books, movies, music, vacation spots, brands of shoe... like I said, everything.
While working in the library last night, I overheard a patron saying to a co-worker, "Well, I'll have to disagree with you on this one. I didn't like it at all." He was returning a DVD, the movie Little Miss Sunshine. He hated it. She loved it. It wasn't just a guy/girl thing because I know men who loved the movie and women who could take it or leave it.

After he left, I said to my co-worker, "I loved Little Miss Sunshine. Just about the best movie I've seen all year. Brilliant writing. Stellar acting."

"Thank you," she said. And we proceeded to talk about why this little movie was so fabulous and why perhaps some people thought the exact opposite.

While googling yesterday, I ran across a reader's comment on one of the Harlequin boards regarding All About Evie. She must've received an advanced reading copy for some reason. I was thrilled when she announced she really enjoyed the read. "Light-hearted with a thread of suspense." She also mentioned that it was in 1st person, something some people may not like.

That's the thing I braced myself for months ago. I know 1st person isn't popular with a lot of romance readers. What's more, this story isn't totally in first person. Portions are in 3rd. Not everyone's cup of tea. But that's okay. Some people, like this reader, the RT reviewer, my agent, my CPs, and everyone at HQN loved Evie as is. So I have to believe there will be plenty more. Just like there was an audience for Little Miss Sunshine there will be an audience for my quirky tale. Not that the two stories are alike in any way whatsoever, but you get my point. Not everyone likes mint chocolate chip ice cream, but some do.

Okay. So here I am sounding all logical and grounded about opinions, but that doesn't mean I won't cringe when/if I read negative reviews about my work. Of course I'll feel the blow of disappointment. I'm human. But the trick is to shake off the hurt and move on, quickly. A friend once told me that when you receive a rejection or a bad review (which is the same as being rejected) to allow yourself to wallow in disappointment or hurt for one day. One day. That's it. Then move on. I believe that to be excellent advice. Luckily, I've been able to do just that for the past several years. Sometimes I don't even wallow a whole day.
I'm rambling about this today, because I know how easy it is to become paralyzed when someone attacks your work, no matter what that work may be. Don't let this happen to you. Feel the sting, wallow for a day, move on, and revel in those who enjoy what you have to offer.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone." ~~Bill Cosby

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Better than an Orgasm

Not really. But I thought that would grab your attention. *g* However, this did make me tingle all over and squeal with joy and excitement!

Remember when I said I started googling myself every day in hopes of finding pre-buzz or early reviews? Well, yesterday I tripped upon May reviews listed at the website for Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine. ALL ABOUT EVIE is listed as a Top Pick! 4 1/2 stars! Wahoo! And here is part of the amazing review that brought tears to my eyes.

"Everything about Ciotta's latest novel is fabulous: the lovable heroine, the sexy hero, the consistently humorous internal monologue, the smooth narration and the delightfully original plot. To use one of the hero's favorite words, it's "brilliant." The author is in full command of her storytelling skills, and she displays them masterfully. Here's hoping we'll be treated to a sequel." —Marilyn Weigel, Romantic Time BOOKreviews

*Squeeeeeeal!* I know I always say reviews are subjective--I still believe that--but what a rush when you happen to be reviewed by someone who 'gets' you and your story. Here's hoping many other readers are as equally pleased as Ms. Weigel. I swear, the burst of excitement I got from her review will have me happy dancing for another week. *g*

Thanks for letting me share!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Harlequin books seeks "real men" for covers...

Jeez, I don't post for days, now two posts in one morning. Can you believe it? But I just found this and HAD to share!

--Until now, the publisher (Harlequin) relied on modelling agencies to supply bodies for its concupiscent covers. But the readership -- predominantly female and averaging 42 years of age -- was upset when slight, young cover models clashed with the brawny, mature heroes described within.

"Some of the heroes are captains of industry, billionaires," said Deborah Peterson, a Harlequin creative designer and a judge at the audition. "A lot of the models were too young, men in their twenties ... and our audience likes men a little bit older, a bit bigger, than the runway models."--

Click here to read the full article.

As a reader and writer in my 40s, I'll just say: Experienced, older, real men put the 'S' in sexy!

Manic, but Happy

I haven't been blogging regularly. I used to blog almost daily. But the 'To Do' list I often mention is out of control. Something's gotta give, meaning time has to come from somewhere. If I did blog regularly just now, you'd be getting a rundown of my day... daily. You don't want that. Really you don't.

Because I'm juggling a bazillion things, my mind is all over the place. Call me manic. I'm simultaneously overwhelmed and excited. These are exciting times. Here's a snippet of what I'm experiencing now and in the next few months.

*At the risk of boring you I won't list specifics, but I've been creating and organizing promo for All About Evie, a time intensive campaign that will continue for several weeks.

*I recently wrote and submitted three chapters of a new contemporary trilogy to my agent. If she likes what she reads, she'll submit that to my publisher and hopefully my publisher will be as keen on the story as I am and offer a contract. We'll see.

*I'm currently writing the synopsis for the third book of my 'Evie' trilogy--working title: Chasing Evie--, due to my publisher in six days. I love Evie. I hate writing synopsis. Enough said.

*I have jury duty Monday and Tuesday. I've never had jury duty. I'm nervous. My husband said, no need to be nervous, but take a book. Okay. I think I have one or two of those around somewhere. *g*

*I need to calculate my expenses for the past year and submit all that info to my husband the first week in April. Tax time. Blech.

*I'll be starting a new story April 1st. The Fall of Rome. My next western. Due to my publisher August 1. I'm super excited as this story features Rome Garrett, a man I fell in love with (in my fantasy world) in Lasso the Moon. I remember my heart pounded for all kinds of reasons when I wrote the synopsis. This story is going to rock... er, from the creator's perspective that is.

*April also includes the Romantic Times Convention. Wa-hoo! I love RT! A chance to mingle with readers and booksellers. A chance to hang out with good friends I see only once or twice a year. I'm also teaching two workshops... need to prepare. And performing in Heather Graham's theater production during her annual bash... waiting for the script. And co-hosting the Mr. Romance Competition... waiting for the script, although I've seen the outline and as always the show promises to be fun! Yesterday, I shopped for an evening gown for that specific production. Totally depressing. Don't get me started. One whine. Why don't they make trendy affordable dresses for women with curves? *sigh*

*On the very heels of RT comes the release of All About Evie, my first book for HQN. For those of you who know me, there is a lot of me in Evie. She's a show biz veteran as am I. It was bound to happen. *g* But as a result, it feels like I'm putting myself out there in a big way. And then there's the whole 'first person' issue. A very different book for me. On pins and needles wndering how it will be received. I'll let you know when reviews and reader comments start rolling in.

*All of the above happens in April. In May, I'll be knee-deep in writing The Fall of Rome and doing booksignings for All About Evie.

*In June I'll be appearing at BEA (Bookseller Expo America) in NYC , signing advance copies of Romancing the West in the Medallion Press booth, and copies of All About Evie in the Harlequin booth. More on that later. Very exciting event.

*In July... the release of Romancing the West ( love this story) which means lots of promo work in the months before hand.

*Somewhere in there I'll get revisions for Everybody Loves Evie, the 2nd book in Evie's adventures.

Um, so you can see why I'm a little scattered and overwhelmed, but mostly, excited. Someone asked me the other day if I miss performing professionally. I could honestly answer, no. Been there. Did that. For thirty years. I have a new passion. A new career. And I am grateful from head to toe. Manic, but happy. Counting my blessings.

"Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself." ~~ Terry Pratchett

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Surfing for Info

Research. Every story I write involves research. Career, location, time period, fashion, transportation, weaponry. The list goes on.

I own quite a few research books on the medieval period, the American West and the Roaring twenties. Books on private detectives, protection specialist, and the FBI. Then there's my paranormal section; ghosts, reincarnation, witches, magic... The list goes on.

Since a person only has so much many to spend on books and only so much room to store them, I utilize the library a lot these days. I also use the Internet. This morning I clicked on my 'Favorites' which contains a list of sites I bookmarked. I smiled because I could tell what story I was working on by the way they were grouped.

Sites...
*History Timeline--Napa County Genealogy
*San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
*California Pacific Railroad
Book... Romancing the West (coming 7/07)

Sites...
*Scottish Vernacular Dictionary
*Trafalgar Squarer-- Pubs and Bars
*The Baronage Registry
Book... Everybody Loves Evie (coming 3/08)

Sites...
*Faeries
*Ancient Civilizations
*Pentacle or Pentagram
Book proposal... new paranormal series

Sites...
*1980s Rock's Greatest Hits
*Ninja 250R
*Mississinawa Lake
Book proposal... new contemporary series

So what's listed in your 'Favorites' Internet file?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mid-Week Ramble

How can it be March 20 already? How? I feel like a broken record: Where does the time go? Where does the time time go? Where does the time go?

Yesterday, I left the island for the first time in weeks. I need new glasses. Well, not need so much as want. I want a new pair of glasses. Ones with black frames. So I went to our favorite eyeglass outlet and picked out a nifty new frame. I also took in my silver wire-rimmed pair and asked if they could tint them a little. Something different. I also have red frames and brown tinted glasses. All perscription. No, I don't need that many pair. I want that many. Since I have to wear them every dang day, I like variety. Speaking of, I have a hair appointment on Saturday. *g*

Except for the eyeglass expedition, I spent the rest of yesterday at the computer, writing and musing, musing and writing. It took me about nine hours to finish chapter two and start chapter three of a proposal for a new story, but it was worth it. I was pleased with the results. So I knocked off at 9pm and treated myself to a movie. It's so rare that I take time away for TV or movies anymore so I was terribly disappointed that Babel did not engage me. I only made it about forty minutes in. I should've watched Casino Royale (again). Steve just bought me the DVD. Yay!

Today, more long hours at the computer, but I finished chapter three! Yah! I just sent the proposal off to my agent. Here's hoping she likes it. Tomorrow, I need to start the synopsis for Evie's third adventure, due in to HQN by the end of this month. After that I dive into The Fall of Rome, my next contracted western. Yee-ha!

Speaking of Evie, just a little over one month until the release of the first book in the series, All About Evie. My nerves are all a tingle. Not that I'm obsessing about how it will be received, but I started googling myself everyday--not as thrilling as it sounds--to see if any early reviews pop up. So far, nothing. If I end up getting slashed and burned somewhere, please somebody, remind how I always preach that reviews are subjective. Or as another author's daughter once said: Opinions are like buttholes. Everybody has one. Heh. Not that I expect anything other than praise for Evie. That's called positive thinking, folks. *g*

Today, I also scrubbed the entire disgusting bathroom top to bottom. But you don't want to hear about that.

Yesterday, Billie-the-Wonder-Dog had an appointment with the vet. She's almost 14 now, but aside from some arthritis, she is in spectacular health. Ruuff!

My 'To Do' list is two pages long. Don't ask.

I've been eating less and NOT losing any weight. What's up with that? And yes, I've been exercising. Sometimes.

I got my grubby little mitts on an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Lara Adrian's Kiss of Midnight. Three words: Intense. Imaginative. Erotic. I'll have lots more words for you, once I finish it, which won't be too long from now since I'm devouring this fast-paced, stellar read.

I could ramble on, but it would digress into a stressball account of my 'To Do' list. Instead, I'll wish you a fantastic week and leave you with this....

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ~~ Mark Twain

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Future of Storytelling

If you visit this blog regularly, you've probably seen my sister Barb comments now and then. She's in the middle, age wise, of my five younger sisters. She also lives in the middle of the US, far from me, unfortunately, with her husband, Larry, and two adorable kids, my neice and nephew, Logan and Jax.

The other night Barb and I were speaking on the phone and Logan (4 going on 14) got on to update me on her life. Barb had just told me about how much Logan loves books and how she's already reading entire stories on her own. Mind you she's still in pre-school and she's already tackled Dr. Seuss and is moving beyond. Logan is one smart and talented cookie! She's also a fellow artistic soul.

"When I grow up," she told me, "I'm going to write books and be an author." I was amused and impressed and flattered because, hey, that's what I do! I promised her I would buy every one of her books and read all of her stories.
I have no doubt she'll make good on her dream if being an author is still her dream several years down the line.
Who knows, maybe she'll pursue her talent for dance in which case I'll be seeing a lot of Broadway musicals. *g* Until then I'll revel in the knowledge that Logan loves to read and wants to spin her own creativity into writing books. Because of kids like her (and the parents and grandparents who inspire them to read) the art of storytelling will burn bright well into the future.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Lucky Thoughts

Due to work, I'll be out of blog-land for a couple of days. Have a fantastic weekend and a Happy St. Patricks Day. Wishing you good luck and good fortune!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's Official!

Just because you choose a title for a story when you pitch it or even write it, that doesn't mean that title will actually end up on the book. I started writing the second Evie novel under the name Being Evie. It was a spin off of an old movie called Being Eve just as All About Evie is a spin off of the classic All About Eve. The title meant something to me because in this episode (so to speak) Evie is coming to better terms with her new life and mending things in her old life. However, when I was about midway through the story my editor informed me that the marketing team didn't go for Being Evie. She explained why. Two solid reasons that I totally understood. Henceforce, until we came up with a better title, we just referred to the book as Evie 2, even up to the point when I turned it in.

While writing the last quarter of Evie 2, I mulled over new titles, trying to stay true to Evie's obsession with movies and TV sitcoms--a spin off of something familiar. I submitted three more ideas, but one in particular cried out "Pick me!" And as I finished the story that title became even more poingant. I made notes on my art fact sheet and also explained to my editor why I thought that title perfectly fit the story. I knew of course that this would be discussed at another meeting and I was ready to accept whatever title they thought best whether it be a suggestion of mine or theirs.

A couple of days ago I got a note from my editor. "It's official. Evie 2 will henceforth be known Everybody Loves Evie!"

Yes! It's the title I'd hoped for. The one that cried, "Pick me!" The one I think perfectly fits the story though I can't tell you why because it would involve a couple of spoilers. And if that wasn't enough, I also learned that the release date was pushed up. Originally, there was talk of a summer 2008 release. Now they're saying spring 2008. Wahoo! It's official! Everybody Loves Evie is coming your way March 2008!

In the meantime, book one of the series will hit shelves in May 1st (this year!)! A little over a month from now. I am on pins and needles. Can't wait! Click here to read the first chapter of All About Evie, available at all on-line stores for pre-order.

Next up, I need to write and submit the synopsis for Evie 3. I think I know the title of that one, but it's not official. Stay tuned!

Speaking of titles, have you seen one recently that really caught your attention?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Global!

I always love hearing from readers. This week I heard from a reader in Thailand! She read both Jinxed and Charmed which were translated by a publisher in Thailand. I've never seen these foreign issues. Perhaps someday I'll get that kick, but for now I'm tripping on BoBiz's delightful comments. It's truly fantastic to know that I entertained someone from so far away. It's also a bit surreal. Wow. I'm global. *g*

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Connecting, Disconnecting, and Reconnecting

Heard back from one critique partner (Mary) and my agent (Amy) regarding the first chapter of the new proposal I'm writing. Both wrote back that they loved it. (Where's a happy dancing smiley face thingee when I need one?) Both said they laughed out loud. (A most excellent sign!) Amy suggested I embellish on some family background, which I did. Good call as it helps the reader to connect even more fully with the heroine and her personal crisis. It helped me, too. I had it in my head but it helped to put it on paper.

Then my sister Barb, one of my biggest fan--hee--and a avid reader, called and asked, "What are you doing?" A dangerous question if she was strapped for time, because I was deep into chapter two and on fire. I proceeded to tell her my new story idea and the more I talked the more my ideas blossomed. She kept saying things like, "Oh, that's funny" and "That's good" and even named my mobster for me. Yes, Barb, I'm going to use your suggestion in your honor.

I already feel the characters. Future scenes are blipping in my head. I can't wait to write them. My gut says this story is going to be a blast. Here's the thing. Once I get to the third chapter I'm stopping and who knows when I'll write the rest. That's how it works when you sell a book on a partial. You plot and research and connect with your characters. You get in the zone and write the first three chapters, submit, and then . . . wait and hope. Hope that the story sells so that you can write the rest. And if it does sell, the publication date could be anywhere from a year to two years out. I still have two other contacted books to write between now and February 2008. So realistically, even if this blast of a proposal sells, I may not get to write it for another whole year! It's killing me. I love this story!

The upshot is that the next contracted book is a tale that I sold on partial almost two years ago. I remember connecting strongly with the characters and the plot and thinking I love this story! I can't wait to write it! And now, almost two years later, I can. Thankfully, those characters burn as strongly in my heart and mind as this new cast. Another most excellent sign.


"If a book is not alive in the writer's mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-shit." ~~ Stephen King

Monday, March 12, 2007

Knowing Me, Knowing Them

The first of two new story proposals is in the works. As noted in a previous post, I'm in the getting to know you phase. Although the occupations of the hero and heroine are unfamiliar to me, I'm emotionally tuned in to certain aspects of their backgrounds, personalities, dreams and goals. In order for the reader to care about the characters, I need to care about them as well. I need to connect in some way. The more I understand and respect that, the faster and truer the tale comes.

"Only write from your own passion, your own truth. That's the only thing you really know about, and anything else leads you away from the pulse." ~~Marianne Williamson

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Introducing Shaun

The past few days have been a little lousy on the personal front. At times like this I'm always happy for anything that makes me smile. Like Shaun the Sheep! Steve sent me this link to a website promoting a new show from the people who gave us Wallace and Grommit (which I love).

Like Shaun, I'm currently creating a new work of art. Happy to say it's going pretty well. Hey. Maybe it would go even better if I got one of those hats!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Getting to Know You

In the past year I wrote two books that revolved around characters from previous books. Each story challenged me for different reasons, but at least I went into them with old friends, characters I'd worked with before. The first three chapters of both of those books came with relative ease. It was after that the road got rocky.

On the flip side, I am now struggling with opening chapters featuring people I don't know from Adam. Three of the things on my 'To Do' list involve new stories. I need to write a partial (three chapters and a synopsis) for two different tales. One is a stand-alone novel. The other would be the first in a series of four... hopefully. I also need to write the synopsis for the third Evie book. The Evie synop is due by the end of this month. There is no firm deadline on the other two, but my goal is to have them done by the end of March as well because I MUST dive into writing the next contracted book--deadline August 1.

There's a freedom in writing about fresh characters. You're not bound by former published descriptions or behavior. Clean slate. Sky's the limit. On the other hand, you have to go through the 'getting to know you' period. This means creating character background charts or interviewing those characters or, if you're a panster like me, diving into those chapters cold. It's kind of like a blind date. Just now I'm getting to know Kylie McGraw. I'm learning she spent most of her life putting everyone's feelings ahead of her own. All nice and good until you start resembling a door mat. I'm learning that she's reached the end of her vast and famous patience. Thus her adventure begins.

It took three dates for Kylie and I to click. And she's just one of four people I need to connect with in a short period. Those character background charts are beginning to sound tempting. *g* If blog posts become sparse over the next couple of weeks, it's because I'm busy forging new relationships.

What about you? How do you go about getting to know someone new?

Friday, March 9, 2007

How I Met My Mentor

Still ticking off items from my 'To Do' list. Yesterday included sending off a bio and pic to the eHarlequin team to be posted on the author index at eHarlequin.com Since authors are listed alphabetically, I'll be just a couple of names down from my mentor, the gracious and dynamic Sandra Chastain. I got a real kick out of that. The story of how I met Sandra and what prompted her to take me under her wing is a fun one. I actually blogged about it once, but that was way back in 2004 (Have I really been blogging for 3 years?!). I tracked down the post at my old Bravenet blog. It was in fact a very long post about my first RT Convention. But here's the snippet telling how I met my mentor. Teaser: It involves a hunky guy and a stage. *g*

* * *
Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 1994
... At breakfast one morning, the woman sitting next to me said, "Excuse me for staring, but you look like the heroine featured on the cover of my latest book." I was stunned, and flattered. She introduced herself as Sandra Chastain (published author of more than thirty books). She said that she'd had a historical costume made and needed a woman to represent her heroine in the Costume Competition (another RT production show). I politely declined. Even though I have a background in entertainment, I'm by no means a 'model'. She then added, "You'd be escorted by Steve Sandalis." (Known at that time as The Topaz Man, the number one model for NAL)
Okay. So maybe I could handle this model thing after all. The Costume Competition involved several rehearsals. There were something like 20 women competing. I felt uncomfortable just being paraded around, so asked Steve if we could do something that involved a bit of acting. He was game. Come showtime, I was ultra-nervous, but as soon as I hit the stage the professional entertainer in me took over. I ran across the stage and jumped into Steve's arms. He caught me, boosting me even higher. I looked down at him. He looked up at me. The crowd went wild. Hams at heart, Steve and I milked it for all it was worth. He eased up and let me slide, slowly, down his body. The lower I slid, the louder the audience cheered. When my feet touched the ground, I kept going... until I was on my knees, my arm stretched up, hand on his chest, my head level with his...oops! The crowd's response was deafening. Steve and I laughed. What a rush. That ended up being the first of several times I appeared in the Costume Competition representing one of Sandra's heroines. It was also the beginning of my friendship with Connie Perry, producer of that show.

I'll end with the kicker of this whole awesome experience. Sandra (Chastain) asked me to send her the first three chapters of my manuscript. She said she had a 'feeling about me.' In the workshops, one of the things they told us, was to never 'ask' a published author to critique your work as they are very busy people, but if one of them offers, jump on the opportunity. Flattered and eager to garner some expert advice, I jumped. Turns out, Sandra became my mentor. She critiqued my work and guided me through my entire first manuscript. She gave me the courage to follow through with my dream of being a published author. I am where I am today, because of this woman's generosity.
So ends my first adventure at an RT convention. It was only the beginning!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Whatever Works

Things are zipping along here in Ciotta-land. In the past three days I completed an extensive interview, finished reading and judging books for a contest, completed an art fact sheet for a future book, updated my website, started calculating taxes, and grocery shopped. This enabled me to cross off about 1/3 of the must-be-done-ASAP To-Do list. At least another third must be done by the end of this week and the other third by the end of this month.

I've found that the best way to tackle multitudes of simultaneous tasks, projects, assignments and what have you is to make a list and prioritize by deadline. Then just do it. Attack the list one-by-one. Cross off each task as completed. In this day and age, I'm sure there are all sorts of nifty computer programs designed to help you organize outstanding projects. But you know me and computers. I prefer the old-fashioned pen to paper approach. I like having that notepad on my desk in plain view at all times. As soon as I complete a task, I physically cross it off. Seeing projects crossed off gives me a sense of accomplishment. As the days whisk by they serve as a reminder that, though I may feel overwhelmed, I am making progress.

We live in an age where companies are consistantly downsizing and giving those left behind heftier workloads. Then there are the situations where a person must work two jobs just to make ends meet. This includes working 'mothers'. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed. The trick is to find a way to tackle as many responsibilities as possible without dropping the ball and/or breaking down. The handwritten To-Do list works for me. If you don't have a 'system' experiment and adopt one whether it be high tech, low tech or simply in your head. Whatever gets you through. Whatever works.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Techno-Goober Strikes Again

Last night I was working on an act fact sheet,, details to be used by the art department when creating a cover, when all of a sudden my screen blanked to a message that said Windows Hibernating.... then the screen went black!

I tried to turn the computer back on but nada! My heart palpitated. Please don't tell me I just crashed my second laptop in less than a year. Why me? No matter how many times I tried to reboot nothing happened. My stomach turned. It's dead. Depressed, I picked up a book and tried to lose myself in someone else's story.

My husband got home from work abut ninety minutes later. He asked how my night went. I told him, "I think I killed my laptop." Again.

"What now?" he said as he started pushing buttons and checking various other things. All of a sudden I look over and my screen is lit up and displaying the document I'd had open before it died. Wahoo!

"What happened?" I asked.

He didn't roll his eyes, but I'm thinking he wanted to. Turns out the power strip I'd plugged my laptop into was turned off. I'd been working off of my battery for several hours without realizing it. He informed me that when the battery gets too low the computer goes into hibernation as a safeguard.

Oh.

I felt a little, okay, a lot stupid. But now I know. I'm just glad Ethel, my laptop, is still alive and ticking.

Anyone else have a recent goober moment lately?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Read the First Chapter!

Warning: Blatant self-promotion.

I received the official okay from HQN to share an excerpt from All About Evie. Woo-hoo! Because of their generous allowance of word count and my spiffy tight writing (*g*), I can actually share the entire first chapter. Click here to read!

Meanwhile, only 1 month and 26 days until Evie hits the shelves! Woo-hoo! Or you can pre-order NOW from any one of your favorite on-line bookstores. If you do pre-order I'll see it in my sales ranking and that would make my day. Hint-hint. :)

Coming soon, a fun give away to celebrate Evie's debut. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Surviving Multiple Deadlines

I’m alive. Were you worried? Did you miss me? I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone between posts except for when I went to London last year which, by the way, seems like a lifetime ago.

I would say it felt weird to forgo my morning ritual of blogging but that would be a lie. Truth is, I didn’t have the time or energy. I was stressed out of my gourd about finishing the contracted book on time and everything, aside from human necessities, fell through the cracks without my normally anal second thought. My week went something like this…

Saturday through Tuesday, I wrote 15-16 hours a day. Wednesday, I was supposed to work at the library, but I called out sick. I truly did feel sick, although I think it was due to lack of sleep and nerves, rather than a virus. Regardless, I wrote 15 hours that day too. Thursday, I went to work, but I had no voice so they sent me home two hours early. My editor needed the completed manuscript by Friday, 9-ish, because of a meeting, so I really needed to finish the book that night. I wrote until 1am and I still wasn’t done. I couldn’t think clearly at that point so I went to bed and set the alarm for 6am. When I woke up, my body felt like crap, but at least I could think. I downed a bottle of water and started typing at 6:05am. I typed the last words at 9am, literally (amazing), saved the file and sent the manuscript to my wonderfully supportive editor.

I had no coffee in my system for those last (and early) frantic, bleary-eyed three hours. Can you believe it? Java-addicted me? So I ran down and made a pot then, huge mug in hand, went back up and read the last chapter that I had so quickly typed. I am relieved to say that I was pleased. Overall, I am extremely happy with what I sent off to Keyren. I look forward to her feedback and phase two—revisions—where I’ll be given the chance to make the story I love even better. Enormously relieved, I showered and went to work. I was a zombie but at least I had a voice. *g*

For those of you wondering why I had to write so much in a condensed period, let me say it’s not because I slacked early on. Because I have chosen to write two books a year, phases of creation, production, and promotion overlap. For instance, this past week while I frantically worked to finish writing the second book in the Evie series, I received the galley for Romancing the West (coming July 07). Because of a production deadline I had a three day turnaround to read the full manuscript for any last minute errors. This meant taking six hours away from Evie 2 (yet to be titled). It also meant switching my mindset from contemporary to historical back to contemporary within the same day. Whee. Within the same week I was also presented with another deadline, quick turnaround, although as it turned out I couldn’t meet it because of a technical glitch. Not my fault. *Sigh of relief*

Point is, when you write multiple books a year, it’s sort of like being on a never ending merry-go-round. And I swear, these days, it’s spinning faster. There’s good and bad in that. The good: The excitement is mounting, a notion that I am in for the thrill of a lifetime. The bad: Life is a blur.

Yesterday, I had to work at the library and last night I had writing business to attend but today, I mostly plan on a day away from the computer. I‘m going to actually drive off of this island and treat myself to a small shopping spree. Something I haven’t done in months. Tomorrow, it’s back to business. I have a proposal due soon. And a new book to start. This morning, I considered blogging something like: Book’s done! Yay! Thank you for your support. End of post. I worried if I shared details of my hell week it might sound like whining. But honestly, I’m not complaining. Not at all. It was tough, but I did it and I loved every minute with my characters. I’m grateful for multiple book deadlines. I’m grateful for readers who want more. I decided to tell all for three reasons.

1) For readers who read this blog, I want you to know I put my heart, soul, and energy into all of my stories. Even if it means, sleepless nights I promise to never phone it in.

2) For pre-published authors who read this blog, if you’re considering writing multiple books a year, be aware that it’s not cut and dry. The creative, promotion, and production aspects will overlap. There will be multiple deadlines beyond turning in the finished book.

3) For published authors who read this blog and who write multiple books a year, I feel your pain. *g* Recently, I read blog posts written by authors Larissa Ione, Lara Adrian, and Jaci Burton pertaining to multiple deadlines. They helped to put my own career in perspective. Meaning I’m not alone in my manic lifestyle. They also helped me to retain my sense of humor.

As always, thank you to my CPs and friends who helped and cheered me over the finish line. Woo-hoo!! I did it! I survived! Now I’m going to shop. *g*